Larry J. Hanley, a transit workers leader who championed union democracy and denounced organized crime’s infiltration of the labor movement, died on May 7 in Columbia, Md. He was 62.
His daughter, Monica Hanley, said the cause was pulmonary disease.
Mr. Hanley, a former bus driver in Brooklyn and Staten Island and labor militant, won the presidency of the 200,000-member Amalgamated Transit Union in 2010 after challenging the incumbent’s lax oversight of its largest New York City local, which represented 15,000 school bus drivers.
“He pressed the international to more aggressively attack the problem of corruption in the Queens local, and its failure to do so was one reason he ended up running for international president,” said Joshua B. Freeman, a distinguished professor of history at Queens College and the City University of New York Graduate Center.
“He also helped move the union to the left,” Professor Freeman said.
Mr. Hanley’s predecessor as international president, Warren S. George, failed to place Local 1181 in receivership in 2005 after its president, Salvatore Battaglia, was charged in a racketeering conspiracy indictment linking him to the Genovese crime family. Mr. George did so in 2006 only after Mr. Battaglia was indicted a second time and was forced to resign as a condition of being granted bail.
Mr. Hanley was unequivocal. If Mr. Battaglia was indeed guilty of accepting bribes to suppress wages and union organizing and of skimming money from the union’s health benefit fund, Mr. Hanley said at the time, “I can’t think of a higher crime against the labor movement.”
Mr. Hanley had the unenviable job of managing David N. Dinkins’s 1989 mayoral campaign on Staten Island, a traditional Republican stronghold where Rudolph W. Giuliani beat Mr. Dinkins, a Democrat, by more than four to one.
Mr. Hanley was a founder of the Working Families Party, which was established in New York in 1998 by unions and community groups to nudge Democratic candidates to the left.
Lawrence Joseph Hanley was born on June 24, 1956, in Jamaica, Queens, to James Emmet and Rose Margaret (Carey) Hanley, who were both auditors. He attended Xavier High School in Manhattan and Susan Wagner High School on Staten Island and studied at St. John’s University and the College of Staten Island.
He started working as a bus driver for the New York City Transit Authority in Brooklyn in 1978. After transferring to Staten Island, he contested what he considered the autocratic leadership of Local 726. He was elected secretary-treasurer in 1984 and president three years later, a job he retained until he joined the national union’s staff in 2002.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Thelma (Mayo) Hanley; their son, Lawrence Jr.; and a brother, James.